The vitamin supplement industry is under fire in New York because of alleged contamination, mislabeling, and false advertising. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading the charge against four major retailers for selling fraudulent and possibly dangerous supplements. Schneiderman states that several “medicinal herbs” were tested from Walgreens, GNC, Walmart, and Target – and they failed. This latest revelation has left consumers to wonder if they can trust the vitamin supplements they’ve come to love.
Among the supplements tested were: Ginko biloba, ginseng, St. John’s wort, and Valerian root. Tests revealed store Ginko biloba to be little more than rice and garlic, St. John’s wort to be comprised of mostly houseplant filler, and Valerian root was merely ground beans and peas. Some medical professionals are not surprised by this latest vitamin scam. They claim that since the vitamin supplement industry is mostly unregulated by the FDA, it is easier for vitamin manufacturers to shortchange consumers at the checkout lane.
Walgreens said it will remove the herbal supplements from its shelves nationwide in the coming weeks, while Walmart will ask its suppliers to take immediate action. Spokesmen for GNC stated that the company will cooperate to the fullest extent, but stand by all of their products. Target is the only retailer that is yet to respond.
Right now many supplements not regulated by the FDA work on an honor system, essentially promising that their supplements are what they claim to be. But this latest discovery has many consumers questioning if the FDA should hold vitamin manufacturers to the same regulatory standards as other industries. The FDA has not indicated that it intends to tighten regulations regarding any of the tested vitamins.
Consumers spent $23 billion on vitamin supplements in 2014, and are predicted to spend 7% more in the year to come. But will this latest vitamin scandal damage potential profits for vitamin supplement merchants? Consumer faith in large retailers may be shaken, but studies show that most consumers prefer to buy their supplements from independently owned sources. Now is the time for new and independent vitamin supplement merchants to establish vitamin supplement merchant accounts.